Thursday, 11 June 2009

Stop look and listen

When stepping up to the turntable on a Saturday night I'd usually get my friends' approval on most things but the Pastels were a step too far for all of them. I think I probably got into them just through hearing that other bands that I really liked liked them. "Sittin' Pretty" was their first album that I bought. Then I worked backwards through "Up For A Bit" and "Suck On..". The last Pastels thing I got was "Speeding Motorcycle" which is brilliant, so I don't know why I just trailed off with them.

I'd been led to believe that they were incredibly fey, and they are a bit. But when I first played "Sittin' Pretty" I was surprised at how rocking it was. Not in the same way that say, The Cult were rocking, but the guitar playing is at times heroic in a slightly wonky way. Apart from how original and catchy the songs are what really makes this album for me is Stephen Pastel's vocals. The lyrics cover quite a bit of ground but it's the way they're delivered that is so great. Stephen Pastel's singing voice could be described as tuneless and here he strains and stalls but there's always enough there to carry the tune off. Overall I would say the vocals come across as a bit strange and dispassionate. Just like Stephen Pastel himself. Anyway, it's another album that I find close to perfect.

It's my theory that The Pastels were substantially the template for Belle and Sebastian. Maybe this is superficial but there are plenty of similarities and this is going to sound a bit insulting to Belle and Sebastian but I see them as kind of like Oasis to The Pastel's Stone Roses. Some bands come through and make the most of a particular style while the less muscular originators seem to languish.

The Pastels: Sit On It Mother


  1. 'Heroic in a slightly wonky way' - it's everything I aspire to be. Hello, btw.

  2. Hello Davy, thanks for dropping by - I've started on TGOE from the beginning, halfway through 2007 at the mo, very sad about Alan Turing.

  3. A mammoth and perhaps unenviable task RT - make sure you break out beefy Bovril at 8,000 feet.